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Simmons Hosts International Women’s Day Breakfast

March 14, 2014

More than 100 people attended this year’s Boston-Area International Women’s Day Breakfast, held at Simmons March 7. This annual event is now in its 17th year, and has been held at the College since 2001.

“This day gives all of us the chance to join with people from around the world and focus on issues important to all women,” said Diane Hammer, director of the Simmons Institute for Leadership and Change, which hosted the event.

This year, a panel of experts spoke about “Moving Women’s Wages Forward: Locally and Globally.” Speakers included Jacqueline Cooke, Regional Administrator and Acting Director of Policy and Programs for the U.S. Department of Labor Women's Bureau; Ann Bookman, Director of the Center for Women in Politics and Public Policy at UMass Boston; Yuko Takahashi, Fulbright Scholar and Professor at Tsuda College; Monique Nguyen, Executive Director at MataHari; and Dr. Paula Johnson, Chief of the Division of Women’s Health at Brigham and Women’s and member of the Boston Women’s Workforce Council.

The musical group Women of the World opened the event, which was attended by Boston City Councilor at Large Ayanna Pressley, an advocate for women and girls.

In her opening remarks, Cooke described “occupational segregation” as a major barrier to women’s wage equality.

“We still have men doing traditional ‘men’s jobs’ and women doing what we think of as traditional ‘women’s jobs’ and the pay for these is significantly less,” she said. “We have made a lot of progress over the years but there is much work that needs to be done.”

Each year, a planning committee representing approximately 15 women’s organizations works with the Simmons Institute for Leadership and Change to plan the event. Previous topics have included women in hunger, women in the green economy, women’s economic self-sufficiency, violence against women, and creating equality in women’s health.

 

Pictured Above: Moderator Jacqueline Cooke with panelists Paula Johnson, Monique Nguyen, Yuko Takahashi, and Ann Bookman.

New Research Reveals Importance of Girl-Serving Organizations

March 5, 2014

Simmons recently hosted a conversation among several girl-serving organizations in Massachusetts, to discuss findings from a research project that looks at career aspirations of middle school girls.

“Dreaming Big” is a collaborative research project between Simmons College and the Girl Scouts of Eastern Massachusetts. The first phase of the research was released in November 2012, using data from more than 1,600 middle school students in New England, New York, and Pennsylvania. The data was released during a 2012 conference at Simmons, which was attended by more than 100 educators and advocates from 54 girl-serving organizations.

Phase two of the “Dreaming Big” project included the collection of additional data from more than 300 girls of color from members of five girl-serving organizations: Science Club for Girls; Strong Women Strong Girls; Girls’ LEAP; Big Sister Association of Greater Boston; and Investing in Girls Alliance. During a Feb. 26 discussion with leaders of those organizations, Girl Scouts of Eastern Massachusetts Director of Council Initiatives and Research Karyn Martin, and Simmons College professors Mary Shapiro and Diane Grossman explained the preliminary findings, which they hope will help to address what is commonly called the “leaky pipeline” for women and leadership. The “leaky pipeline” shows that while women enter the workforce at the same rate as, and often with higher education levels than, men they tend to “leak” out of the path to leadership in larger numbers than their male counterparts due to a variety of social, organizational, and personal factors.

“The data in this research project confirms the power and importance of girl-serving organizations,” said Shapiro. “What we want to do next, is use the data to show others how these and other organizations can help to reverse the “leaky pipeline” and in doing so, help to improve our overall economy with more, qualified women leaders.”

 

Complete findings from phase two of the research will be released later this summer. Preliminary findings that were shared Feb. 26 included:

  • By middle school, girls of color are beginning to make career decisions, but are lacking helpful information, just as girls who are white. In the absence of career advice coming from parents and schools, girl-serving organizations have taken up that effort.
  • Girls of color have different career aspirations and career goals than girls who are white. Girls of color pay less attention to social messages about what they can and cannot do as working adults, and are more likely to be told to not pursue a particular career than girls who are white.
  • Girls of color are more likely to expect to keep working after they have children, than girls who are white.
  • A Nov. 14, 2014 conference is planned for participating girl-serving organizations to convene and discuss next steps in how best to use the research to guide their programming efforts.
Pictured above: Members of Girl Serving Organizations and Simmons partners at Wednesday's meeting.

Olympic Athletes Visit Simmons for Empowerment Through Sport Conference

February 21, 2014

On Saturday, February 1, Simmons hosted the second annual Empowerment Through Sport Leadership Series (ETSLS) Boston event, a conference aimed at encouraging leadership and change in young female students through athletics.

More than 70 girls and young women in middle school and high school attended a variety of workshops on leadership, teamwork, transitioning from club sports to college, nutrition, health and fitness, and service learning for teams and student-athletes.

The event also featured a number of speakers, including keynote speaker Cat Whitehill, U.S. Women’s Soccer gold medalist and Boston Breakers defender; Angela Hucles, ETSLS Founder and Director and U.S. Women’s Soccer gold medalist; former Wheelock Athletic Director Diana Cutaia; and Simmons student-athlete Nafeesa Connolly ’14, who gave the welcoming address.

Sharks student-athletes and members of the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee, a group of student-athletes who serve as liaisons to the student-athlete community and athletic department, volunteered as peer mentors and engaged with attendees in hands-on activities throughout the day.

The event was hosted in collaboration with the Simmons Institute for Leadership and Change (SILC), a bridge between Simmons and community organizations with a focus on women and girls.

 [PHOTO: Simmons student-athlete volunteers]

Simmons Hosts Girl Scout Leadership Conference

February 7, 2014

Simmons College hosted nearly 125 attendees for the 2014 Girl 2 Girl – Girl Scout Leadership Conference on Sunday, January 26.

Girls from grades 6-12 participated in several workshops, including self-defense, robotics, educational sessions on food, and a session on how to choose a college led by Assistant Director of Admissions Lauren Kovarik.

First-year nursing student Christina Rullo gave the welcoming address on behalf of Simmons and spoke about her love for Girl Scouts and the College.

The conference also incorporated new ways to engage attendees on social media. Girls were encouraged to tweet photos using hashtags #G2G2014 and #GirlScout4Life at @SimmonsCollege for an opportunity to win Simmons prizes.

The event was hosted in collaboration with the Simmons Institute for Leadership and Change (SILC), a bridge between Simmons and community organizations with a focus on women and girls.

PHOTO: Girl Scouts in attendance at Sunday's conference 

Simmons Hosts Science Club for Girls Event

February 3, 2014

The Simmons Institute for Leadership and Change (SILC) hosted the Science Club for Girls (SCFG) Volunteer Training on Saturday, January 25.

SILC, a bridge between Simmons and community organizations, and SCFG, a Massachusetts-based organization that provides girl-specific programming with a concentration on science and engineering, trained nearly 50 volunteers and high school students on how to engage with girls in 8th through 12th grade with hands-on activities in the world of science.

“It was clear our students were connecting with each other and with the tasks at hand,” said SILC Director Diane Hammer. “Everyone was learning and having fun.”

Eight Simmons students took part in the training:

Samantha Flores ’14
Jayne Lavallee ’14
Zun Zar Niang ’14
Alissa Sullivan ’14
Kayla Willis ’14
Caitlin Terry ’15
Angeline Chen ’16
Tatyana Brisard ’17

“In our society, girls are not always encouraged to pursue science,” said Connie Chow, executive director of SCFG. “Programs that connect students and professionals in these fields with young girls have great potential to get girls excited about these topics and get them thinking about careers in the sciences.”

PHOTO: Simmons students who participated in a volunteer training for the Science Club for Girls. Left to right: Angeline Chen '16, Tatyana Brisard '17, Kayla Willis '14, and Zun Zar Niang '14.

 

 

Premier Children’s Literature Journal Moves to Simmons

January 23, 2014

The Horn Book, the premier journal of children’s literature, will be moving its editorial offices to the Simmons campus in April, leasing space in the One Palace Road building. The move will provide an even stronger connection between The Horn Book and Simmons’s Center for the Study of Children’s Literature (CSCL), with the potential for increased opportunities for students.

“This move is a particularly exciting one for the graduate programs in children's literature and for the work of the Center for the Study of Children's Literature," said Cathie Mercier, director of the CSCL. "I am excited about welcoming our good friends from The Horn Book as our neighbors.”

Currently located in the Sullivan Square area of Somerville, The Horn Book has a long history with Simmons. Its founder was Simmons alumna Bertha Mahoney Miller (1902) and the Simmons Archives hold The Horn Book editorial papers. The CSCL has also co-hosted the Boston Globe-Horn Book Awards and Colloquium for the past several years, and Horn Book Editor Roger Sutton has been an adjunct faculty member in the Children’s Literature graduate programs.

Simmons Students Discuss Safety with Iraqi Leaders

January 8, 2014

Three Simmons students were recently part of a presentation to members of an Iraqi delegation during a three-day program designed to inform international leaders of measures taken in the United States to combat gender-based violence and human trafficking. The program, which included a visit to Girls’ LEAP in Dorchester, took place in December and was sponsored by the U.S. State Department’s International Visitor Leadership Program and arranged by WorldBoston, a non-profit organization dedicated to engaging the public in international affairs and promoting partnerships between the United States and other nations.

Simmons senior Jordan Barnes, junior LaShawn Holloway, and sophomore Allison Lamb were chosen to address the delegation because of their involvement with Girls’ LEAP, a local non-profit that seeks to empower girls and young women to value and champion their own safety and well-being. The three women demonstrated the Girls’ LEAP curriculum, which combines physical self-defense skills with socio-emotional learning and self-reflective activities. They were joined by Girls’ LEAP Program Director Kaitie Chakoian, a Simmons alumna.

“We were honored to host this delegation, to have the opportunity to present our curriculum to them, and to hear about the measures they are taking to promote female empowerment in Iraq,” Chakoian said.

The five Iraqi leaders attending the program represented various organizations that are championing the rights of Iraqi women and combating gender-based violence. None of the delegation members had traveled to the United States before.

Girls’ LEAP is an important community partner for Simmons, the Simmons Institute for Leadership and Change and the Scott/Ross Center for Community Service. Since 2006, more than 70 Simmons women have completed Girls’ LEAP intensive training and more than 40 women have gone on to serve as assistant instructors in programs all over Boston.

Photo Credit: Craig Musicant.

Leaders in Girls' Education Visit Simmons

December 19, 2013

Last month, Simmons hosted the National Coalition of Girls’ Schools (NCGS) for a breakfast meeting to discuss the challenges and opportunities women and girls face in education. Representatives from 12 schools attended the event, including Sister Marie Juvenal of the Maranyundo School in Rwanda. Sister Juvenal described the work being done at Maranyundo, which is supported by several members of the NCGS.

The following schools were represented at the Nov. 20 event:

Dana Hall School, Esperanza Academy, Ethel Walker School, Lincoln School, Maranyundo School, Montrose School, Mother Caroline Academy, Nazareth Academy, Newton Country Day School, Paraclete, Ursuline Academy, and the Winsor School.

Pictured above: President Helen Drinan with Sister Marie Juvenal of the Maranyundo School and NCGS Executive Director Megan Murphy.

Simmons Hosts National Conversation on Board Diversity

November 20, 2013

In an effort to boost gender diversity on corporate boards across the country, Simmons partnered with the national campaign 2020 Women on Boards to host a panel discussion on the issue November 12.

The event was one of 20 being held across the country to discuss how we can raise the percentage of women on U.S. corporate boards to 20 percent or greater by the year 2020. 2020 Women on Boards Founder Stephanie Sonnabend was in attendance and praised Simmons for being an early supporter of the campaign, which launched in 2010. She announced that, going forward, Simmons will house the 2020 Women on Boards Boston Chapter, coordinating all activities taking place in Massachusetts.

“Together we can make it happen,” she said. “We’re about education and advocacy.”

President Helen Drinan delivered welcoming remarks to the audience gathered in the Linda K. Paresky Conference Center, drawing from her recent Huffington Post blog on the absence of women from Twitter’s board of directors.

“How can a company possibly think that not having any women on its board could make sense?” she said. “There is absolutely no excuse for this.”

Drinan stressed the need for male allies when discussing gender inequality, and urged the audience to think politically about the companies they choose to support. On its website, 2020 Women on Boards lists the number of women on the boards of hundreds of well-known companies. Consumers can search this list and choose not to support businesses that have all-male boards.

Panelist Joe Keefe, President and CEP of Pax World Funds, also urged audience members with investments to cast their proxy votes and make their voices heard as shareholders.

“As investors we are asleep at the switch,” he said. “I believe that if we put our investment money to work we can make a difference.”

Keefe was joined for the panel discussion by moderator Cathy Minehan, Dean of the School of Management, and by Sue Vinnicombe, an expert on gender diversity on corporate boards and the Deloitte Ellen Gabriel Endowed Chair for Women and Leadership at the Simmons School of Management. Vinnicombe founded the International Centre for Women Leaders at Cranfield University in England, which publishes an annual report on the number of women directors on corporate boards in the United Kingdom.

“We need to change the culture,” Vinnicombe said. “It’s a business issue. It’s not a ‘nice to have,’ it’s a ‘need to have.’”

Tuesday’s event was part of SimmonsLEADS, a dynamic series of exciting speakers, programs, and events that focus on the empowerment and development of women leaders. The initiative aims to further the mission of the College's founder, John Simmons — to enable women to acquire independent livelihoods. All SimmonsLEADS events are non-profit fundraisers for graduate scholarships at Simmons College to help ensure the viability of women's education for generations to come.

Pictured above: Panelists Joe Keefe and Sue Vinnicombe with Moderator Cathy Minehan. Photo Credit: John Waite. 

9th Annual Asian American Women in Leadership Conference Held at Simmons

November 18, 2013

On Saturday November 9, the Simmons Institute for Leadership and Change (SILC) hosted the 9th annual Asian American Women in Leadership Conference sponsored by ASPIRE (Asian Sisters Participating In Reaching Excellence). Approximately 150 women attended the day-long conference, which featured workshops, a performance by the performance troupe Genki Spark, facilitated networking discussion groups, and a keynote by Ishita Gupta, entrepreneur and founder of Fear.Less Magazine.

Every year, the conference aims to promote strategic dialogue on the importance of leadership for Asian American girls and women. This year’s conference theme was “Embracing the Leader You Are.”

As they have in past years, the Simmons Asian Student Association (ASA) played a prominent role in providing volunteer leadership at the conference, with more than 11 members attending. Grace Tang, the president of ASA, delivered the welcoming remarks.

Pictured above: members of the Simmons Asian Student Association at the conference.

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